Now in his second year at the University of Michigan, cornerback Donovan Warren is now all too familiar with with the feeling that comes after suffering a season opening home loss. In 2007 Appalachian State shocked the world with a 34-32 win over then No. 5th ranked Michigan in Warren's first game with the Maize & Blue. In his sophomore campaign, Utah again came out victorious from the Big House 25-23. Despite the disappointing nature of those setbacks, Warren looks upon them as learning experiences and knows what must be done to get back on the winning track.
"I feel like we have to come out and set the tone for everybody, offense and defense, special teams and things like that," he explained. "If everything is not going to swell, I feel like the defense has to be the one to step up and make big plays, put some points up on the board also."
Warren is getting his chance to personally help spark some plays by returning punts. Last season, he handled that duty sparingly. Now that he has the responsibility all too himself, he knows he do a better job of deciding when the time is right to try to make an impact.
"I felt real comfortable (fielding punts). Like I said, I was trying to make a couple of plays for the team. On a few of those I should have but hopefully I will get an opportunity to make some returns."
Warren will get more of those opportunities if he and the rest of the defense come out firing on all cylinders like they did in the second half versus Utah. The difference in performance between halves was staggering.
In the first half, several assignments were missed and the D was gashed for over 300 yards and 22 points. Then in the second half, Michigan tightened put the Utes in a chokehold, allowing only three points and 28 yards of total offense. Warren noticed some key points that were addressed at halftime.
"I feel like we could get in those guys face and press them man to man," he explained. "That was one of the big things that was telling them in the second half… make some adjustments. That is what we started doing a lot more, bringing the fight to them, being aggressive towards them, not sitting back on our heels, as far as the back seven goes and just letting them come at us. I feel like in the second half, we did that and that is what we were successful at."
"I was frustrated on Saturday night and Sunday, but now it is just more like I am ready for Miami," he continued. " I feel like, I know what we are capable of after seeing the second half on film. It is just a matter of just getting better and getting ready for this week."
Warren and his defensive friends will be charged with holding down an offense that was stymied last week versus Vanderbilt. The Commodores forced Miami quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh into 19/41 three interception performance. Warren believes that the approach his unit implemented in the second half last week will allow the Maize & Blue to have similar success.
"That is the kind of attitude we are going to have from now on," he said. "We are going to bring the fight to them. We (are) not going to let them bring the fight to us."
Michigan fans will see if these words ring true come noon on Saturday.